It took nearly two seasons for Brian Hill to start in the NFL. When the opportunity finally came, Wyoming's all-time leading rusher made the most of it, running for 115 yards on eight carries, including a 60-yard game-clinching scamper in Atlanta's 24-10 win over Carolina last Sunday.

“I was excited all week knowing I was going to get a chance to run the ball," Hill told reporters after the game. "I started out a little shaky out there, but I’m happy I could turn it around.”

It was a familiar sight for Pokes fans. During three seasons at Wyoming, Hill set records for career rushing yards (4,287), single-season rushing yards (1,860 in 2016), career touchdowns (35), and single-season touchdowns (22 in 2016).

Drafted in the fifth round by the Falcons in 2017, Hill made the regular season roster as a rookie but played in only one game before he was released. Claimed off waivers by Cincinnati, Hill played in six games for the Bengals, primarily on special teams.

Heading into his second season, it looked like the former Wyoming star would be a bust in the pros. After he was cut by the Bengals in the final week of training camp, Hill returned to Atlanta. Relegated to the practice squad with his NFL career hanging on by a thread, he kept on grinding. And now, that persistence is starting to pay off.

Hill was added to the Falcons' 53-man roster in week four and gradually moved up the depth chart. Sunday's game against the Panthers marked his first significant playing time at running back. After his performance, it won't be the last.

Hill is one of 11 Wyoming alumni currently on NFL rosters, including former Pokes cornerback Rico Gafford, who made his professional debut for the Denver Broncos against Oakland Monday night.


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